This morning as I was walking out of Wawa I ran into Jesus. Now before you call the guys with the straight jackets, let me explain. In my mind, I felt I saw myself and Jesus walking side by side. Then there was a moment as if he walked right through me transferring his thoughts into my mind without words. His thoughts? He told me that I could live as he lived during His time on earth. That I could daily walk with God and resist temptation. That the righteous life that he lived could be accomplished. That I have all the tools I need to thwart the plan of the enemy and live a life free from defilement. By no means was it new information. It was simply Jesus stepping out of heaven once again to encourage me. It was a split second interaction, but it was the theme of my thought life for the rest of the day.
So I began to think about Jesus’ time on the planet. He didn’t concern himself with sex or what the haters were saying. He went about his Father’s business and he started at a very young age. Thinking about all the time I have wasted being afraid, ashamed, drunk, shy, immoral or just lazy, makes me anxious. I almost forgot being angry, offended and bitter. Now of course I spent time doing other stuff as well, good stuff. The good stuff, however, is often easy to forget or overshadowed by the bad. Or I compare my good stuff with other people’s “good stuff” and degrade myself. It’s understandable that when we find that we are good at something, we stick to it and often refuse to try something new. The aftertaste of failure is enough to keep us away from the buffet of life.
Then there is the example that Jesus set for us. The life he led before the people of His day. And His timeless legacy of faith that lives on from the scriptures. Jesus suffered the three R’s of relationship: rebuke, rejection and ridicule. His followers doubted him. They even left him in two distinct waves. He didn’t let the shifting masses distract him from his Father’s mission. I let stuff distract and lead me astray all the time. Sometimes opinions of people I barely know dictate my actions more than the voice of a God who laid down his life for me. “Stick and stones may break my bones, but words”…well, words often paralyze any and all forward motion.
As a little kid I made a silent vow. I swore that I would make sure that no one would ever hurt like I hurt. It was the moment my childhood ended and I gave up on finding a resolution for my pain. Life was no longer lived carefree and easy. The world needed a protector, a savior, a friend. A person that understood what it meant to suffer, who could prevent pain from ever happening. I couldn’t do anything to end my sorrows, but I was damned sure that the same fate wouldn’t befall anyone else. I think that was also when I formulated the opinion that God didn’t care about people’s pain. If He did He wouldn’t have let me suffer. It wasn’t like I sit and deliberated the existence of God for hours. It was a simple thought, left to fester. The enemy built a kingdom on that foundation. This was the beginning of a lot of mistakes.
I would later learn that pain is not always a bad thing. Pain is the body’s warning beacon. Pain tells us when to stop and when we have gone too far. Pain lets us know we are not invincible. Endured pain shows others that we care. Were it not for the physical pain of the cross, the emotional pain of losing close friends and the spiritual pain of separation from His father, Jesus would have been just another guy with some good news to share. Instead, He endured great pain and torment, so that you and I would never have to endure the pain of being separated from God, unless we chose to do so.
One of the other vows I made to myself was that I was never going to let anyone else hurt me. That was a hard promise to keep. No relationship is perfect. Sooner or later someone is going to hurt you. If that is the case, I decided, then relationships are “bad news”. So I built up walls. Before too long, there were walls in between me and almost everyone I knew. In order to make sure I didn’t get hurt, I refused to let people in and the person they thought they knew was someone carefully crafted up by me to keep the real me safe. Clear as mud right.
The end result is simply this; I want to be more like Jesus. What a cliché, right? Depends. Personally I am tired of living my life angry, afraid, alone, bitter, offended, immoral, anxious and lazy. I have experienced life with and without Christ. My life makes more sense with Christ. I feel physically different when I am not having my regular time in His presence. My desire is to follow Christ’s example in everything I do. My reality is that I need work on that goal. I may not always get it right. To the world I have but one reply “I am a Christian. I am not Christ. I will get things wrong. I will make my best effort to lead a good life, but when I slip please remember. My goal is submission to God, not to become a slave to pErfecTioN.”
James 1:19-21 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. 20 for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
Proverbs 12:16 “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.”
I want to walk through life with my eyes on the goal of sharing Christ with others. When I submitted my life, fully, to Jesus Christ at the end of 1998, I was tired of trying to make the world work according to my plan. Jesus Christ is the only reason I have accomplished anything in my life. He changed my life. I want people to look at my life and see the difference that Christ makes. Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” I know that Jesus has led me to deconstruct the walls I have built in so many of my relationships. My walls kept God out as well. Fear played into it as well. Fear of getting hurt again or having people reject the real me, kept me paralyzed, so I built more walls. I had so many walls up I made ‘The Great Wall of China’ look like a room divider.
God didn’t come into my life like a wrecking ball. He allowed me to become so love starved behind my walls, that the pain of staying in isolation was greater than the pain of building new relationships. He showed me my error and led me to places of resolution. The first relationship I began to resolve was with my father. I had kept him out of my life since I was very young. When I begin to work on the relationship, I was 27. That was about as easy as juggling flaming chainsaws.
Jesus was tempted in the same ways that we are tempted, but he did not sin. That was the realization that God breathed into my head today. Jesus was God in human form, but he was subject to the laws of the body. Even in that though, he walked with God. He knew when to withdraw from the crowds. He knew when it was time to pray. He didn’t come to earth to meet needs. He came to do the will of the Father. He expects the same of me. He didn’t defile himself with the things of this world, because he saw the billion year plan. He knew that the things of this world are temporary. They offer nothing but bondage and emotional instability. Jesus showed me today that it isn’t impossible to live a righteous life in fact it is much preferred. Not because God is a prude, but because the devil is well, THE DEVIL. Evil is his middle name. Evil is even in his name. satan has nothing but death for us my friends. Christ has life and life more abundantly.
Life down here offers some amazing temporary pleasures, but if the trade off for me has often been baggage, bondage and heartache. For a moment this morning in my thoughts and contemplation, I remembered what it was like to walk with God. I remembered what it was like the first time I chose the bible over pornography as my staple mental diet. I remembered the healing that began to take place when I stopped believing all the crazy lies about God and myself that the enemy told me and started believing what the word of God says about God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and me. Jesus made himself real to me so many years ago. Through living life in a broken world, I have forgotten over the years and turned my relationship into a religion. I don’t want more of that. I want more of Jesus.